How to Be Free
Author: Joe Blow

Chapter 6
Radical Self-Acceptance

Let’s take a look at what self-acceptance means in practice.

I’ll use an example from my own life. When I was around 20 I went through a terrible depression. A new mother was staying in our house with her baby. At a point early in the depression an image occurred to me of myself throwing the baby down onto the floor and killing it. In my imagination those present didn’t worry about the baby but turned their attention to me and asked what made me do such a thing. At first I dismissed this thought, but it just wouldn’t go away and over time it came to obsess me, and I thought that I might actually carry it out. After the mother and baby left, when this was no longer a possibility, I continued to spiral deeper and deeper into depression. “How could I even think about such a terrible thing?” I asked myself. “Surely I must be evil. There must be some horrible sickness in me.” And the more I tried to find a solution to this problem the worse it got.

Since then I’ve learned more about what we call Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and discovered that this kind of thinking and the accompanying anxiety and depression are incredibly common.

If I had simply accepted that this was something that my mind had thrown up, and that, since it was a thought and not an action, it was morally neutral, the problem would not have occurred. By “trying to be a good person” and struggling with this thought, I only made myself miserable, and, as a result, for the time I was depressed, a more selfish person, and thus someone who took more from those around him than he gave. So accepting these thoughts would have not just been doing the right thing by myself, but also by others.

We have limited control over what we think or feel. We do have some control. We can distract ourselves or learn disciplines such as meditation. But often this is not a good idea.

The natural tendency in the mind is to seek wholeness. We can make ourselves miserable quite easily by clinging to ideas by an act of will or trying to fight against the ideas and feelings which come to us unbidden.


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